July 23, 2016

The Role of Coffee in Atrial Fibrillation

Is there anyone with atrial fibrillation who hasn’t been told that coffee and caffeine can cause or trigger atrial fibrillation?

The first step to controlling atrial fibrillation, we’re often told, is to eliminate coffee. Because of this, coffee and caffeine are frequent topics on afib discussion forums.

But there’s interesting information about coffee at the Micronutrient Information Center of the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.

This fascinating site contains interesting facts, such as that unfiltered coffee can raise total cholesterol and bad cholesterol (LDL) levels. In addition, coffee consumption is associated with decreased risk of Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and liver disease, and there is no evidence that it increases the risk of cancer. It can increase blood pressure, but most studies found no increased cardiovascular disease risk from moderate consumption.

What was most interesting, though, was the relationship of coffee and cardiac arrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillation. According to the site,

“Clinical trials have not found coffee or caffeine intake equivalent to 5-6 cups/d to increase the frequency or severity of cardiac arrhythmias in healthy people or people with CHD. A large prospective study in the US that followed more than 128,000 people for 7 years found no association between coffee consumption and sudden cardiac death. More recently, two prospective studies in Scandinavia found no association between coffee consumption and the risk of developing atrial fibrillation, a common supraventricular arrhythmia.”

So, according to this, coffee, even 5-6 cups per day, doesn’t play a role in developing atrial fibrillation or increasing the frequency or severity of arrhythmias.

When this topic comes up on a discussion forum, someone will inevitably say that they drink as much coffee they want as long as it’s organic or it’s decaf.

What has been your experience with coffee and afib? Does cutting out coffee or caffeine decrease or eliminate your atrial fibrillation? Or does it make it any difference at all?

How many of us grab some coffee when we’re stressed? Could it be stress, not coffee, that’s the culprit?


  1. Sharlene Capps says:

    Alcohol is not a stimulant; it’s the opposite. It slows down body functions. Even though one drink seems to lighten ones mood, the drug is slowing the body down.

  2. Buy a personal ECG monitor for your smartphone. NOT all that flutters in your chest is heart (~$75) After my ablation, it is very reassuring

  3. david anderson says:

    I myself over the past few weeks have suffered frightening a.fib episodes durin vigorous exersise,I do drink quite a bit of coffee but I’m quite positive the culprit was down to an overdose of nicotine losenges..which has since shocked me into stopping that..after my episode durin pushups yesterday I was lukin for advice about what preventative measures u can take or if I need a period if rest bf I continue with training..n just ease up on the volume I do for now..today I am experiencing light headedness,dizziness n confusion since yesterday..n I’m just lukin for preventative strategies..thanku.

    • Brenna Lara says:

      Hi David,

      Thank you for sharing your afib story and your concerns. You may be interested in joining our patient discussion forum (http://forum.stopafib.org/index.php) to connect with other patients who collectively have a great amount of knowledge and experience. You may want to post your story and questions there, and you may also learn a lot from others who have already shared their experience. I hope that you are able to find others to connect with there that can give you advice, suggestions, and hope. There are many resources on living with afib that you might find helpful. Best of luck to you! We wish you sinus rhythm.

  4. I commented earlier but should have added I take Metropatol twice daily. More if I have an episode and need it.

  5. I drink coffee every morning. Iced Tea all day long. No problem but two cups of herbal caffenated hot tea and I’m flittering like I have a vibrater in my chest! More than one Pepsi or Coke with caffeine same thing. And lately 10:00 at night after no drinks and i’m flittering. I would love to know why.

  6. Ann Rutkowski says:

    I think fatigue not drinking enough water stress chocolate and drinking more than 1 cup of decaf coffee and alcohol all contribute to a fib episodes for me. Usually one of these symptoms does bring on an a fib episode for me.

  7. Coffee and alcohol are stimulants. That’s why they are so popular throughout the world. The “pick me up” with coffee increases heart rate. So why would anyone with a heart condition want to take such a substance? All these studies that say coffee and alcohol have no correlation to afib in my opinion is misleading.

    • Brenna Lara says:

      Hi John,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. You may be interested in joining our patient discussion forum (http://forum.stopafib.org/index.php?act=idx) to connect with other patients who collectively have a great amount of knowledge and experience. You may want to post your thoughts and concerns there, and you may also learn a lot from others who have already shared their experience.

  8. for the past 5 mornings after a good nites sleep have developed a fib 10 mins after arising ,first 4 morn 40 mg sotalol stopped it ,the 5 req 80 mg

  9. I have had two episodes of Afib in three years. After the first, I cut back to three cups of coffee a day. I had a 20-cup-a-day habit before that, which was ridiculous. I had another episode while drinking three cups a day but it was after mowing both my front and back lawn and doing five minutes on my stationary bike. I think it was the exercise and had nothing to do with caffeine. I think the problem with coffee is that a cup should be a cup. Measure it. I do. Most of our coffee mugs and cups are actually almost 2 cups, especially the mugs. I think three (Measured) cups a day is harmless and if I’m sleepy and trying to work at night, I sometimes have another half cup. The two things my episodes had in common were not sleeping well the night before and being stressed with work.

  10. I drink decaffeinated coffee around 3 cups a day usually after food intake. I have reduced blood pressure to normal after years of afib. But sometimes I get a skip in the heart beating. Does decaf causes it? .

  11. T. Smith says:

    I have taken Excedrin migraine medication that contains caffeine, also caffeine tablets to work out because of slow metabolism. Now have afib. Question, is caffeine the cause. Excedrin migraine has 65mg of caffeine and tablets has 200mg of caffeine. Taking two to four tablets a day, between 400 to 800 mg a day plus migraine another 65mg. so 465 to 865 to over 900mg two to three times a week. This would be equivalent to four to five cups of coffee. So, this will not cause afib? The lack of energy is a symptom of afib?

  12. Hi. My experience:
    When I drink coffee (just ONE drink) I get AF for between 1-3 days and as a result cannot sleep hardly at all for that time. My blood pressure sits around 150/100 during this time, whereas it is normal otherwise.
    This does NOT happen with Coke (or sugary foods) for me. Go figure!?!
    I am a healthy early-thirties male otherwise. No other medical conditions.

  13. Stuart phillips says:

    I get lightheadedness, when I stand up.could that be a afib promlem?

    “not found coffee or caffeine intake equivalent to 5-6 cups/d to increase the frequency or severity of cardiac arrhythmias in healthy people or people with CHD.”

    Your conclusion to the study is misleading in my opinion. The study says they have not found a connection between developing afib or the frequency of arrhythmias IN HEALTHY PEOPLE or people with CHD.

    This doesn’t look like a study which examines the link between coffee and afib incidents among people who already have persistent afib. But the way you have it on the site, it makes it sound like the consensus is there is no relation, even though the study was not of an afib population, it was the general population.

    • I take a lot of caffeine as an Afib patient. For the last 2 years I have taken around 600 mg to 1200 mg of caffeine per day simply because I can’t seem to stay awake during the day otherwise. Turns out I have moderate sleep apnea which is the cause of my Afib episodes, not the caffeine at all. The only correlation is that caffeine crash makes me sleep harder which can cause the apnea to be worse at that particular night.

      Right now the doctors have me on Cardizem which is really good at keeping your heart rate low and pradaxa which is some new fangled blood thinner. Last weekend was my first episode in nearly 3 years.